Horror is How You See It

I’ve never considered my work to be in the horror genre, but I’ve had some people say it was a fantasy horror cross. Well, I guess when you write about hell, satan, demons, etc, and show the things they do, even when it is perfectly within their nature to do those things and they’re not being mean on purpose, or gory on purpose–it does happen. 🙂 I’ve included a few excerpts from Hell’s Own to show where fantasy may cross the line into horror.

War—the ultimate aphrodisiac. The adrenaline soared through Alexander’s veins. He noticed the horrified looks on the faces of his two comrades, but didn’t grant them any reaction. His total attention was on the similar creature on the other side of the room. Coward, hiding behind a human. The mighty wings that surrounded Christine flinched. Yeah, you heard me.

“The name’s Belal,” the demon hissed.

“I don’t care what your,” Alexander moved to take a step forward, then, foot in mid-air he clasped his hands over his ears, and screamed as he fell to the floor. In his ears, a thunderous clang sounded. The third bell. It reverberated between his eardrums and threatened to drive him mad.

“Thought you’d like to hear that, Alexander,” Satan’s voice chimed in and mingled with the fading peal of the bell in his mind. “Not as good as the real thing, I’m afraid, but it will have to do. As you can tell by my emissary, the bell rang already. I really hated that you had to miss it again though.”

Michael jumped back and stared at the screaming creature next to him, crouched in pain. This was not good. He stepped in front of Alexander as the beast that held Christine released her, and headed for the bent figure on the floor. With his arms in position, he prepared to fight the demon when a giant wing whipped through the air, and slapped him across the side, tossing him to the opposite wall.

“Mind your business, human,” Belal growled, not bothering to look his way as he towered over Alexander.

Michael grimaced when the looming figure reached down and plucked Alexander from the floor like a limp rag. The two were so similar it was uncanny. With a quick swipe, Michael grabbed a lamp from a table by the couch and lifted it above his head.

“No! I like that one,” Christine shrieked.

Belal looked back in shock at the woman. It was just enough, Alexander jerked away, looked at Michael, and shook his head, “this one’s mine, Michael.” And kicked with all his force, sending the centria flying across the room.

Pictures hung on the wall with care, crashed to the floor. Glass shattered into little shards of sparkling razors across the floor at the Belal’s feet.

He lunged, and screamed, hoping from foot to foot from the jagged glass that impaled him.

He swooped into the air and met Alexander head on, wrestling, and tumbling about. A left hook sent Alex sprawling into the table that had once held the lamp. Christine screamed, but Michael held the lamp up, showing her he had it.

Christine rolled her eyes. “Great, Mike.” Then looked back at the pile of toothpicks that was once the table and shook her head as Alexander picked himself up and threw himself into the air once more.

Wings beat in furious flight, sending books, and knick-knacks flying across the room. Fangs bared as the centria slashed at each other with gaping mouths. Christine shuddered in horror. Her angel, the one who’d battled a demon, she gulped back the tears that swelled in her throat, he hadn’t been fighting for God, he’d been fighting for himself, just another evil creature on an escapade to destroy humanity.

Her skin felt slimy remembering his touches. If she showered for a week she’d never be able to remove the grim from her body. Alexander heaved the second demon’s body higher smashing it against the ceiling.

The occupant above thumped on the floor, and a cranky old voice yelled out, “What are you trying to do, wreck the place? Keep it down, people are trying to sleep.”

Alexander shoved Belal back and hit the ceiling once more in response, and chunks of plaster fell to the floor at Christine’s feet.

Alexander pinned Belal to the ceiling as he struggled to get free. “What do you want with me?” he whispered in the demon’s ear. “The earth is ripe with human flesh that is much tastier than mine. Why go back?”

Belal stopped squirming and considered the notion. The building shook and both demons felt Satan’s rage at the considered revolt. “He’s pissed,” Belal said with a wicked smile.

“You think?” Alexander relaxed a bit when he saw a twinkle of defiance in Belal’s eyes.

A rage filled scream split the air from below that rumbled like thunder as it echoed off into the distance petrified Christine. She looked down at her feet as the floor buckled and rocked. She looked back at Alexander and his fellow demon on the ceiling. Alexander shrugged at her.

Glass shattered from windows.

The old voice from above called out, “that’s it! I’m calling the cops.”

Michael stared at the fighting brutes battling mid-air, then contemplated the threat from the above apartment. “Yeah, Good luck with that.”

Belal smiled and looked at Christine. Alex’s gut twisted. Not that one, he thought. Belal raised his brow and put his hands on Alexander’s wrists, crunching the metal bands that dangled from them until the iron collapsed and broke.

Michael’s eyes bugged out as he watched the stainless steel, unbreakable, police-issued cuffs fall to the floor.

“Two for freedom,” he said, and his gaze wandered to Michael, then switched back to Christine. The look on her face was pure terror. Only Michael hadn’t heard the exchange.

Belal wretched free from Alex’s grasp and Alex conceded. He watched as Belal drifted to the floor and moved with swift grace to hover over Christine’s crouched body as she curled up in a corner of the room.

“Go away!” she screamed as the beast bore down on her. “In the name of God, be gone!” Her voice wasn’t more than a whimper as she held up her arms to shield herself. That was supposed to work! God promised it would, but the demon kept moving in on her like a death cloud. Darkness enveloped her as his wings spread to encircle the small area of her hunched frame. “Be gone Satan,” she cried.

“You have the wrong demon,” he said with a chuckle, as he bent and his fangs neared her throat.

Suddenly light flooded her space.

It worked! Christine looked up to the ceiling to thank God, and saw the lamp instead as Michael brought it down in a crushing blow on top of Belal’s head.

“Get out of the way!” Michael yelled as he grabbed onto the stunned demon’s wings and lugged him through the kitchen door.

Christine lurched out of his path, and watched with amazement as Michael shoved the tips of Belal’s gigantic wings into the sink drain, and flipped the switch on the wall.

The garbage disposal whirred and then clogged. Christine gasped as Michael threw open the cabinet beneath the sink as Belal’s leg twitched, and his eyes fluttered.

“Hurry, Michael!” Christine shrieked.

Michael’s hand trembled as he balled it up into a fist and pounded on the little canister beneath the porcelain sink.

The disposal groaned.

Michael slammed his fist into it again.

Belal bellowed and jerked to free himself, but the machine rumbled into action and yanked back.

The coal black eyes flew open. Pain etched across Belal’s face. He thrashed about as the disposal pulled him backwards, inch-by-damnably-slow-inch, grinding and chewing until the last of the demon was gone.

“Tell Lucifer hello when you get back,” Alexander shouted from the living room. He waved good-bye to the wide-eyed humans in the kitchen who were stunned into inaction, and stood by the sink looking into the black hole, and then back at Alexander, then back at the hole.

Alex didn’t give them time to consider a like fate for him. He hurried from the room, and slammed the door behind him.

***

Alexander stumbled down the hazy street. His vision blurred in and out in the gray fog of the morning. The moisture in the air that would normally thrill him, now only made him shiver.

His mind swam with the pictures of the scene in Christine’s apartment, and the looks on the faces of his new friends as they stood in the shattered remains of Christine’s things.

Hunger nagged at his belly. He ignored it. There was nothing here for him. The streets were still empty in the lazy little town that rolled up its sidewalks at dark. The sun had only just begun to lighten the night sky.

He needed time. Time he didn’t have. A stab of pain seared through his gut. He hadn’t eaten in too long, and the battle had taken too much energy. He doubled over at the pain as his stomach. He had never known real hunger before surfacing. Lately he was becoming infuratingly accustomed to the stabbing feeling in his gut.

He needed desperately to find food. Any food. A rat scurried out from an alley. Alexander dove for it. He hit the ground just as a streak of orange beat him to the fresh meat. Alexander pounded his fist on the grass as the large tabby glanced over its shoulder at him while standing on the fresh kill.

Alexander drew in a sharp breath of air at the pain that seized his stomach as the cat bit into the prey and picked it up in its mouth. The cat turned his head and glared back him, then hissed as it sprinted away with its kill.

Okay for you, it’s more your size anyway.

He stood and brushed himself off. The jeans that Christine had brought him were full of cuts and tears. The shirt was long gone, discarded on the living room floor of Christine’s apartment. He sighed and walked on, too tired to fly, barely able to search for food.

Alexander weaved amongst a cluster of houses in the town. He listened for voices, but there were none. He searched the alleys and garbage, hoping for a tossed out shirt or sweater. Anything to warm him from the chill in the night air. Finally he found what he’d been looking for. A clothesline full of forgotten laundry. The material was damp from the midnight dew. The morning sun would have warmed them to dry perfection, but there was no time to wait for that. Alexander grabbed the heaviest shirt he could find on the line, and covered his bare chest, and pinned his wings behind him.

Food was next on his list. Actually it had been first, but who was to question the order gifts arrived? He wasn’t about to. He licked his lips and set out looking for something that would satisfy the frighteningly quick fatigue that was setting into him. As fast as the warmth of the shirt warmed him, the hunger spread to chill his blood. He felt the way he had in the bar when he’d first tasted the fiery water. Drunk, the bartender had called it. That’s what it felt like now. His head swam, and his stomach felt nauseous.

His delirious mind searched for comfort. There was only one place on the hard cold earth that he had felt supreme consolation, and happiness, and he weaved his way down the street in search of his paradise.

At the edge of the park, Alexander dropped to his knees on the green grass. Valhalla! Here at least was beauty that compared to none he’d ever known. Even in the dim morning light the park was sublime. The sun rose quickly, and Alex breathed deep the sun-drenched air that warmed his lungs.

A smile flickered on his lips. He lie still on the grass and let his mind go blank. He was nearing the end. His strength was almost completely gone. At least he would die in the place he loved the most.

Time stood still in Alex’s mind, but he heard the town awaken. Automobiles moved about on the street. The sun slipped higher in the sky above him, and beat down in luscious waves of radiant heat. His muscles felt like rubber, and he didn’t bother trying to move. The shuffle of feet as passers-by stopped to stare at the man on the grass didn’t concern him. When he was dead, they could gawk and stare all they wanted anyway, what were a few moments more?

A lilting note of laughter teased his mind and he tried to raise his head to locate the sound. He couldn’t. He strained his ears to hear it again. It grew nearer, and hushed in a curious reverence.

“Hi, Mister.” A tiny, high-pitched voice said above him.

Alexander opened one eye, and peered up into the small round face. The little human’s enormous blue eyes, fresh with hope for a new day stared back at him. A big bold smile was plastered on her face.

Alexander turned away.

“You okay, Mister?”

“Go away, little one.” Alexander twisted onto his side. The hunger crunched his stomach. He turned his head to look up at the tiny female. She was small. Her face looked like sunshine.

A cloud passed over the field, and blocked the light. The air chilled around him, and made Alex’s blood thicken. He felt his pulse throb like a death march, and a shadow spread in Alex’s mind with the passing sunlight. He turned away, his mind empty to all but the desire flooding every aspect of his being.

“What’s your name?” the little one’s voice felt like the brilliant globe in the sky, but it didn’t warm him, it only made him miss the rays of the sun. “Alex,” he said, feeling aggravation nag at his words.

“Wanna play, Alex?”

Alex looked back sharply at the hman child. Yes, yes he did want to play. He rose slowly to sit on the grass beside the child. “I’d like that,” he said. His voice was raspy with hunger, and weak from the battle. He might not even have the strength to overcome this small human being.

A tiny hand reached out and touched his shoulder. A jagged feeling of emotion swept thorough him. He gasped from the circulating tumult inside him. It must be the hunger. It gnawed at his insides, and made him ache.

“What do you want to play, Alex?”

Alex struggled to get to his feet, and he looked down as he wavered trying to keep his balance. He held out a large hand, and the little female child put hers in it. He closed his hand around hers. “Where’s your home small one?”

The little girl pointed across the street to a group of apartments and looked up at Alexander with a trusting smile. “My name’s Angela.”

He took a faltering step, and then drew in a deep breath as he led her toward the designated building.

The sky rumbled, and a lightning bolt split the air. “Oh, is she yours?” He sneered.

“What’s that, Mister?”

He felt the little hand squeeze his inside his palm. “Nothing child,” he managed to reply.

Alexander looked up as a drop of rain fell and splashed on his cheek. Wrong move, I like that. His knees went weak, and he fell to the ground just outside the door of the building. The little hand wretched free of his. He expected her to run. She didn’t. Instead she put her little hands on his shoulders and tugged at his shirt.

“Come on, Alex.”

He struggled to enter the building when the girl opened the door. The entry was musky and dark. Paint peeled from the walls, and plaster hung from the ceiling. The darkness fed his desire even more, and his belly grumbled for food. A staircase let up to a hall of doors just visible from the entrance. Every stair threatened to collapse if any weight were to befall them. The ramshackle building was startling in contrast to the picturesque little town that surrounded it.

A door opened in the hallway above, and light spilled out into the corridor. An impatient voice called down to the girl. “Is that you Angela?”

Alexander stumbled into the shadows beneath the stairwell pulling the child with him.

“Yes, mama,” Angela said quietly. Her eyes cast downward.

“What at you doing down there?”

“Playing with Alex, mama.”

“That child and her imaginary friends,” Alexander heard the voice grumble as the woman slammed the door, and the hall went back to darkness.

Alexander felt the tremor of fear mixed with sorrow in the little girl’s body as he hugged her tightly beneath the stairwell. It wasn’t him that she was scared of.

His breath came in short gasps now, and his chest constricted with pain. The effort to hide quickly drained every last ounce of energy he had. He was desperate for a meal. The little girl turned in his embrace, and threw her chubby little arms around his neck. “We can play hide and seek.” She whispered in his ear.

“I’m too tired to play. I’d like to stay right here.”

The little girl nodded, and snuggled down into his lap. He felt her ache for comfort, and remembered the disgust in the tone from above. He put a hand to the soft, downy hair on the little head on his chest, and soothed the child as he bent over her, smothering her in his grip, as he took her neck into his mouth. He felt the snap as her spine twisted in his teeth, and broke.

There hadn’t even been a whimper. Blood spurt into his mouth, and ran down his throat. He swallowed with greedy gulps and tore at the flesh beneath his lips, letting the meat dissolve in his mouth. An uneasy feeling accompanied his swallow, and made his head spin.

His hands shook.

His heart skipped, and faltered.

Alexander shook his head whipping his hair around his face, and gripped the remains of the child as he rose up, and staggered out from under the stairs. He looked into the dark, dank pit where he’d been. There was nothing unusual about it. No reason for the feeling of despair that haunted his spirit. No reason for the quaking of his body.

He closed his mouth around the flesh of the child in his arms once again, and his body shook with disgust at the taste. He dropped the limp form in the entry of the building, and rushed out into the fresh morning air.

He felt her blood pulse in his veins, and it repulsed him. Confusion clouded his mind, and he hammered his fists against his temples demanding his mind straighten out.

A woman rushed by dressed in a neat business suit, he studied her as she brushed against him. He considered her. She hesitated, and looked back at him. Her eyes widened at his blood-soaked appearance.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

Alexander shook his head, and the woman reached out to steady him. A pulse of sickening desire jolted him. He threw back his head and howled. The woman jerked back, and tripped over her own feet as she ran from him.

That’s right, run. Everybody run. He gripped his chest at the feeling of wickedness that spread through it. His thoughts turned to the city with its dark alleys full of decrepit life. He yearned for it, but feared his waning strength.

***

Christine turned in Michael’s strong arms. She inhaled the aroma of his musky skin next to her cheek as she lay in his embrace. Realizing suddenly where she was, she pushed back and sat up in the bed staring at the man sleeping soundly beside her. She took a deep breath and examined her fully clothed body, and then his. She relaxed a little and thought hard about the events of the night before. She’d been so horrified, so scared, and so upset to find out that Alexander wasn’t an angel of God. That he was nothing more than a runaway demon. Could she have been so afraid, she’d let herself fall into Michael’s arms?

At least he hadn’t laughed at her for making the mistake she had. A tear welled up in her eye. How could she have been so stupid? He was so dark and evil. She saw that now.

Michael opened one eye and looked up at her.

“Oh Michael, what have I done?”

“It’s okay sweetheart. You didn’t know.” The poor thing, he thought as he ran a hand across her cheek. She’d been so disappointed. An angel, he laughed inside. Of all things to think that the thing was, she had to pick angel. Then he realized she wasn’t talking about Alexander. “Don’t worry. Your honor is safe with me. You were scared, that’s all. I stayed with you. Remember?”

She did now, and smiled at her hero. He’d saved her, he’d saved both of them. He’d saved all three of them.

A thud outside startled her. Please no more. Not again. She sunk down into Michael’s arms, but he pulled away and rose up out of the bed.

“No, Michael. Don’t go. Don’t look. Stay with me.”

He heard the fear in her voice. He felt it too, and wished like never before he hadn’t been so stupid as to leave his gun behind at work. Not that a gun would have made much difference the night before. Those things were already dead, weren’t they?

Then again, maybe not, he had killed the one with a garbage disposal. The garbage disposal that was now sealed up tight with three towels stuffed into it, and duct tape plastered across it two inches thick. “It’s probably just the newspaper boy,” he said trying to comfort the fear in her eyes.

“We don’t have a newspaper boy.”

Michael’s lips twisted in an acknowledging grimace, but he turned to leave anyway.

As he walked through the dark apartment he screamed bloody murder. Christine’s voice trembled through the air, “what happened?”

“I stubbed my damned foot.” He kept moving through the apartment, kicking debris from the fight aside as he went.

He stopped in the middle of the living room and listened to what sounded like fingers raking a blackboard. He winced, and stepped towards the door. Steeling himself for what he might find on the other side, he swung it open, and looked down on the prone body in the threshold prying at the door with its fingertips.

“I’ve done something bad, Michael.”

Why didn’t he have a hard time believing that? He dragged the limp body through the door. He was covered in blood. Michael turned to Christine as she snuck up behind him.

“No! Get him out of here!” She pulled back from Michael’s hand as he tried to calm her. She shook her head at him. “No, get rid of that thing. He would have given us both up if it would have gotten him away from that other thing.”

Alexander lowered his head to hide his shame. He would have. He would have given up their souls to save his life. “I was wrong,” he said, barely above a whisper. He had no strength left.

Christine eyed him. “Yeah, right.” She pulled back a foot to kick, but Michael stopped her.

“Christine, he needs to eat. He’s dying.”

“He should die.” She folded her arms. He didn’t look so scary now on the floor covered in blood. Whose blood was it anyway? He didn’t look wounded. “He should go straight back to hell where he came from.”

Michael bent next to Alexander’s body. The sound of the blood rushing through Michael’s veins thundered in Alexander’s ears. The heat from his muscular, firm body made his heart pound in his chest. “Help me, Michael.” He stammered.

Michael pulled him to his feet, and dragged him into the kitchen room and plunked him on a chair. Alexander laid his head on the small round table in front of him, as Michael rummaged through a big box on one wall. He felt his eyes grow huge at the sight of the slab of bright red meat in Michael’s hands that he withdrew from the cold box.

Alexander summoned all the strength he had left, and lunged at Michael, grabbing the package, and tore into the food, wrapping and all. He bit down on the solid piece of meat, and screamed with rage at the frozen slab.

Christine held her ears and scrunched her eyes at the horrifying sound. “What the hell’s the matter with you?”

Michael just laughed, and pulled the meat away from Alexander’s greedy hands. He walked over to a small box on the counter and threw the package inside.

“It’s frozen, dude. You need to heat it up.”

“Why?” He didn’t want hot food, “I’d prefer it cold,” he said. He wanted it raw. He wanted it bloody,

“Well, it doesn’t need to be cooked I suppose, but I’ll at least defrost it. You don’t want to break them big ass teeth of yours, do you?”

Alexander shook his head, while Christine looked on the scene with a disbelieving expression on her face. “Michael! What are you doing?”

“The man needs to eat.”

“He’s not a man.”

For some reason, that stabbed Alex deep in the heart.

“Well, he needs to eat anyway,” Michael insisted.

“Why don’t you ask him where all that blood came from? Looks like he’s eaten already.”

Michael eyed him, and Alex feared the reaction from the explanation.

He looked hungrily at the meat that turned inside the machine. The smell of warm fresh meat wafted through the kitchen and made his mouth water. “Can I eat first please?” He begged with his eyes. He was too exhausted to even try to obtain the food by force. If he didn’t get to eat now, he was done for.

“No, tell us now. Then you can eat.” The determination in Christine’s eyes was fierce. “Maybe.” There was no getting around her now, Alex slumped and let the story spill out.

Christine threw up all over the shiny linoleum as Alexander related his dreaded experience with the child. “Oh my God!” she screamed as she heaved. Wiping her mouth with her sleeve, she shook off Michael’s hand that tried to help her stand straight again. “Get him out of here! Put him in jail, Michael. Put him away” She looked up and glared menacingly at Alexander. “Kill him.”

Michael’s staggered backwards at the venom in her voice. His sweet Christine, not even as a rebellious teenager full of angst and hatred, had he ever heard her say anything like that.

“He didn’t attack us Christine.” Michael walked over and put the defrosted raw meat in front of Michael who grabbed it and tore into the meat with greedy desire. “He needs help, and we should help him. He’s our friend, he’s won’t do it anymore.”

Alex nodded vigorously in agreement as he swallowed the last of the meat, and turned his eyes to the big box from where the meat came.

“Even Jeffery Dahmer had friends Michael. Didn’t make him a good. Charlie Manson probably didn’t eat his followers either. That doesn’t make him a good person.”

Michael’s face became a mask of darkness. “Jeffery Dahmer was an evil man. So is Manson.”

An exasperated gasp blurt out of Christine’s mouth. “Um… hello”. She pointed at the beast at the table. “Evil man alert, Michael.”

Michael looked over at the demon. “He’s not evil, Christine, he can’t help himself.”

“May I remind you that thing gave us up for his own benefit.”

Michael studied the beast. There was sorrow in the eyes that stared back at him. “He’s sorry, Christine. He made a mistake.”

Christine glowered at Alexander. Deceiver. From the devil. Master liar. “He’s not sorry, he’s hungry.”

Alexander’s eyes shifted to her. Christine’s breathing hitched. Had he changed his focus? The steely black eyes looking at her were still hungry, but the look made her think she was the main course he had in mind now. She grit her teeth and turned her glare on Michael and pointed at Alexander. “Look at the way he’s looking at me Michael. Are you blind? And you call yourself a cop.”

Michael returned the glare, “and you call yourself a Christian.”

Christine stood in place, her mouth open. Michael hadn’t moved an inch, but he’d backhanded her as sure as if he’d swung. Her mouth was tight, but it quivered at the edges. “Get out,” she managed to squeeze out of her clenched lips. “And take that thing with you.”

Alexander waved with a weak hand. “It’s okay, Michael. She’s right. I’d leave myself, but I can’t. You have to take me.”

——————————

“Come on.” Michael pulled Alexander by the wings. His eyes were narrow and hard, but his guts twisted. If the big bastard fought him he’d be in a world of trouble. He swore at himself for not calling for back up. Relief flooded him when he felt the weight of Alexander give under his pull.

“I can’t leave him, Michael.” Alexander looked up as Michael pulled him, and implored his friend with pain and sorrow in his heart. He looked back at the limp body on the ground.

Michael followed Alex’s look. The body on the ground thankfully wasn’t ravaged…yet. At least he’d gotten there in time to keep that abomination from happening. With an insistent pull he yanked harder.

“Ouch!” Alexander jerked his head to look back at Michael. “That hurts!” He struggled to stand, but the force of Michael’s pull kept him off balance. The anger in Michael’s eyes did a good job of unbalancing him too. “He was my friend, Michael.”

Michael released the huge wings and stepped back. A sharp stab of fear ripped through his chest. Friend? This is how Alexander treated friends?  His face scrunched. Yes. Eventually this would be how it always ended with Alexander. He saw that now, and pulled his gun. Michael leveled the gun at Alexander’s head. Taking him in would do no good. He was going to have to take him out. Send him back to hell. That was the goal anyway, wasn’t it?

The barrel of the gun quivered in Michael’s shaking hand.

“Sissy,” Satan hissed as he felt the hesitation in Michael’s trigger finger spike like a lightning bolt through his spirit. He closed his eyes for a moment and gave serious consideration to turning away from his captive and returning to the screen. A little good-natured prodding might be in order. A sinister smile spread on his lips at the juicy joy the idea gave him.

“You’re not going to do it, are you?” Michael said to a stunned Alexander who sat on the ground just inches from the shaking barrel of the gun pointed at his face. “I can send you back and it won’t do a damned bit of good, will it?”

Damned? Good choice of words. Alexander panicked and backed away from the apparatus in Michael’s hands. He wasn’t sure exactly what the deep black tunnel contained, but it was ominous looking in spite of the comical way it trembled in Michael’s shaking hands.

Michael advanced on the demon as he inched backwards. Alex picked up the pace and spread his wings in a last ditch attempt to flee and a mocking look spread on Michael’s face.

“Go ahead. Take off. I’ll shoot you down like a pigeon.” The gun steadied in Michael’s hands, and his finger pressed against the cold, hard sliver of the trigger.

“Yes!” Satan felt a ripple of success as the power in Michael’s anger reached him in the depths hell. He opened his eyes and stared down at the frightened woman at his feet. “Don’t move a muscle, my dear. I’ll be back.”

Satan spun around and hurried back to the office. He slammed the door behind him leaving Christine alone in the creepy throne room to watch the shadows as they crept back in from the corridors and spread towards her.

“Do it!” Satan screamed with all his might at the screen. On the monitor Michael hesitated and looked about. “Yeah, yeah. Get on with it stupid. Send that prick back home and you can have your girlfriend back.” Satan’s form darkened, and a hideous twist threatened to turn his physical body into a raging tempest. He swallowed back the anger.

“Stay out of it.”

Satan sneered up at the earth above him as if looking through it to the very heavens from where the whispered command came.

“If you interfere anymore, I’m going to come down there and whip your ass myself!”

“Promises, promises. Like you’ve never given a little spiritual goading.” Satan bit back his inner thoughts as he stared back at the screen. He commanded himself to regain control. It wasn’t doing him any good. He looked down at his contorted form.

Besides, every time he turned into a tornado the vast expanse of Hades was torn apart and ravaged beyond repair—the coast of Peru continuously took the brunt of it on those occasions as well. Tsunamis were a pleasant little after effect of his hellish wrath.

One particularly vicious outburst left Hades in total destruction he’d never bothered to rebuild. His lips quivered at the audacity of Peru. It always seemed to bounce back. He shook his head with mild amusement. They never learned.

He, however, decided then he liked his subjects to be kept in more primitive settings anyway. Before that, hell had become quite the earth’s equivalent in industry… demons, however, weren’t as easy to control as humans when it came to having the power of technology. Besides, try as he might, he never could seem to thwart men’s bouncing back from his destruction.

Alex stopped backing when his hand hit the cold body of his friend instead of firm concrete. The emptiness of the body chilled him. He grabbed the man and hoisted the body in front of him.

Now that was just plain low, Michael thought as he kept the gun leveled at Alex’s chest right through the old man’s dead body. So what if you shoot a dead guy, his mind insisted. Then he hesitated, yeah, so what if you shoot a dead guy? What good was shooting Alexander? All he would end up doing is tear apart a defenseless corpse. Alexander was a thing, not a man.

“Go back, Alexander.” Michael’s voice pleaded rather than commanded. His arm fell to his side.

“Get on with it will you!”

Michael stepped backwards as if hit by an unseen fist. He shook his head and looked at Alexander. No, it wasn’t the same voice. The questioning look on Alexander’s face made it plain he hadn’t heard the voice. Michael looked around. They were alone in the alley. He turned his attention back to the human shielded demon. “Go back where you came from Alexander. If you don’t Christine will…” what? Die? He wasn’t sure. Was she dead already?

Alexander let the body drop from in front of him and he stood to confront Michael. “What about Christine?”

“Yeah, like you don’t know,” Michael said, feeling the anger rise in him again, and taking its strength to raise the gun again. “I don’t know what good this will do, but you’re going back. One way, or the other.”

Alexander shook his head. “I’m not going back there, Michael.”

“You have to. He has Christine.”

The horror of the statement sent Alexander’s mind reeling. Whether Christine cared about him, or not, he cared about Christine. But going back just wasn’t an option. He’d risked too much to get away. He thought about the pit, and cringed. He wouldn’t make it out again. “You just don’t understand, Michael. Doing that,” he motioned with his head at the pointed gun, “won’t do any good.”

Satan bellowed at the top of his lungs, and the earth above him shook. Wind whipped about in the sealed room and papers flew about with the visages of trapped souls screaming from the pages that were whipped around in a fury of anger as Satan’s anger swelled into a cyclone that tore into the earthen walls around him. Furniture flew about crashing into walls, and pelting the screen. The monitor threatened to shatter and Satan pulled in his frustration. His body warped, expanded, vibrating with the consumed rage that swelled and released until he was back in control.

Frustration seethed from him as Satan watched the cop on the screen start to turn away. “Oh no you don’t,” he yelled at the screen, and the figure stopped to look back over his shoulder at the demon. Alex shrugged in response.

Satan slammed into the door of the office, and threw it open. He charged across the throne room and grabbed the near to hysterical woman who’d been once again surrounded by inquisitive demons of various types. “Get lost!” Satan yelled at the departing creatures that fled at his appearance.

Christine squirmed and twisted in the angry grasp that surrounded her arm in a vice grip and pulled her toward the room behind the throne. She dug her heels into the red clay beneath her feet, and resisted with every ounce of strength she had left. The twisted rage on the face of the beast that held her was more frightening than anything she’d seen so far, and that was saying a heck of a lot. Her fingers trembled as she scratched and clawed at the arm that pulled her.

Demons peered with shocked astonishment into the cathedral watching as the master dragged the fighting woman into the sacred room that none dared enter.

Christine wretched away from the mighty grip as Satan slammed the door shut behind them once more. She looked around frantically at the devastated office, then back at the fuming beast.

“Hey!” Satan yelled at the monitor. This time his voice echoed in the dark alley, and both Alex and Michael took notice. “Yeah, you two. Quit playing games!” He reached out and grabbed the woman by the arm, and dragged her over to the center of the room before the screen.

Hands as strong as iron pressed into her arms. Christine shrieked with the pain of bones crushing beneath the furiously constricting fingers. The sound of her scream echoed in the alley and both men cringed at the sound.

“Get on with it now, Michael. Give me what’s mine, and you can have what’s yours.” Satan said as he bore down harder on the woman in his hands.

Christine’s chest was consumed with a raging fire that burned inside. Her mind went blank with the pain as she swooned to pass out and she whimpered in an agonizing cry.

Michael stood in the alley and shook his head trying to clear his thoughts. The sound of Christine’s torment would haunt him until his dying day. He looked at Alexander who was visibly shaken, but not looking any kind of resolved to remedy the situation. “You are a useless piece of shit. You know that?” he shouted at Alex. “To think I wasted my time trying to help you.” He raised the gun again and Alexander drew back.

Michael shook his head at the cowering demon. Then his face went blank as he cleared his mind completely to what he was about to do, and he pulled back and pointed the gun directly at his own temple.

“NO!” Alexander shouted and leapt for Michael’s hand before it could pull the trigger.

Satan’s eyes widened and he released his grip on the woman in his arms, letting her fall to the floor. “NO!” he yelled at the screen.

***

The gun rang out in the tight confines of the alley, and reverberated against the brick walls as it rose up into the night and split the heavens with the sound of thunder.

Tami Parrington is a freelance writer and author of seven novels including Hell’s Own. Check out Hell’s Own on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Hells-Own-ebook/dp/B001B8QFF4

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